“Words for the Wind” is a love poem in four parts. In it, Theodore Roethke demonstrates his characteristic concern for and sense of union with nature, his questing curiosity about the meaning of things, and finally his belief that meaning is ultimately discovered through feeling and intuition, not through rationality. Yet what really helps the speaker to become one with all and to answer the questions he asks (or, really, to recognize the unimportance of the questions or the answers) is love felt for and returned by another person.
There appears to be no progression in the various parts of the poem, but there is a pattern. The speaker repeats verses (apparently addressed to no one) that resemble snatches of old songs (“Love, love, a lily’s my care”) or nonsense rhymes (“She’s sweeter than a tree”). He also notes events in nature: “The shallow stream runs slack;/ The wind creaks slowly by.” He has questions about what he observes: “Are flower and seed the same?” Sometimes, there are answers that defy common sense: “Whatever was, still is,/ Says a song tied to a tree.” The speaker also describes his own contented condition: “Mad in the wind I wear/ Myself as I should be.” He believes that nature is favorably disposed toward him because “the birds came down/ And made my song their own.” The poet’s beloved appears from time to time, raising no conflicts, as accepting and pleasant with the poet as the rest of nature is: “She likes wherever I am.”
(The entire section is 618 words.)